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The Lincoln Memorial

Abraham Lincoln was 55 years old when he was assassinated in April of 1865.  Less than two years after his death, in March of 1867, the Lincoln Monument Association was incorporated by the U.S. Congress to build a memorial to honor the 16th President.  After that, little progress was made for the next 44 years until 1901, when a site in a swamp next to the Potomac River was chosen as the location for the monument (MAP).  A decade later, Congress formally authorized the design of The Lincoln Memorial in February of 1911.  Three years after that, in 1914, actual construction began when the first stone was put into place on February 12th, Lincoln’s birthday.  It then took more than six additional years of work until the building of the monument was finished in 1922.  So 55 years after it initially began, the monument to the 55 year old President was finally completed.  Accordingly, in addition to the iconic landmark on the National Mall being a fitting tribute to President Abraham Lincoln, it is also symbolic of the pace at which our government gets things done.

When the building of the monument was finally completed, two of President Lincoln’s most important speeches could be found carved on the inner walls of the Memorial: the Gettysburg Address on the north wall, and his Second Inaugural Address on the south wall.  However, while carving the Second Inaugural Address, the engraver accidentally chiseled the letter ‘E’ instead of an ‘F’ in the word “future.”  An attempt to correct the mistake was made by filling in the extra line, but it is still quite visible.  This can also be seen as symbolic.  That regardless of the amount of time they take, the government often can’t get things done right.

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